After suffering two years with what many believe was a - politely - "social disease", Franz Schubert said in March of 1824 "Each night when I go to sleep, I hope never to wake again, and each morning serves only to recall the misery of the previous day." And in the same month composed his "Death and the Maiden" String Quartet, the title coming from his use in the quartet's second movement of the opening theme from his earlier song setting of a poem by the same name written by German poet Matthias Claudius (1740–1815). In it, Death tries to convince a young Maiden to take comfort of sleep in his arms.
Schubert would struggle on as his condition worsened until he finally passed in 1828 at age 31. But his “Death and the Maiden” Quartet lives on as a staple of the string quartet repertoire, and is today’s Midday Masterpiece at 2:00 pm.